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A Mother’s Gift

In my high school English class, I assign students the task of writing a letter expressing gratitude to someone who has profoundly influenced their lives. I encourage them to be open and sincere, reflecting on how these individuals have shaped their paths, a task that resonates deeply with me. Without the presence of a particular individual in our lives, my husband and I wouldn’t have had the chance to become parents.

“Adoption wasn’t a difficult decision for my husband and me. When we learned that our fertility struggles would persist, we knew adoption was the solution.”

Kyrsten Devonshire

My sister’s adoption when I was nearly 12 made the idea feel even more familiar. Despite not sharing genetic ties, our bond, as siblings remained strong, and even as adults, we share a close-knit familial connection.

The adoption process in Alberta begins with attending a seminar, where prospective parents learn about various options and prepare themselves for the journey ahead. During one seminar, some attendees expressed doubts about loving an adopted child as much as a biological one. This notion baffled me. A baby is a baby—your baby. My heart was already open to embracing this child, this promise awaiting us down this road.

Two years later

After two years on the waiting list, we finally received the long-awaited call. A fifteen-year-old girl was expecting a boy in February, and she had chosen us to raise him. Our excitement knew no bounds. We were there for his birth, greeted by the sight of the sweetest little bundle of joy.

As his birth mother looked at him lovingly, I felt a mix of emotions. Before taking him home, I reached out to her, offering support if she had second thoughts. Yet, she reassured us, and we named him Paxton. In Alberta, the birth mother has ten days to reconsider after signing the consent to adoption. Eight days after bringing him home, she requested his return—a devastating blow that we had sensed was coming. Despite our heartache, we could only wish them the brightest future, sending him back with tokens of love.

“Such losses can be overwhelming. However, agencies like Adoption Options provide vital support during these dark times.”

Kyrsten Devonshire

Waitlisted again

After gathering our strength, we re-joined the waiting list, holding onto hope that after weathering this storm, brighter days were ahead.

Another call eventually came, stirring a mix of emotions within us. Once again, a fifteen-year-old was expecting a son in February and had chosen us as prospective adoptive parents. To say we were nervous would be an understatement. Would this eerily similar situation also end in heartache? Yet, guided by hope, we met this young woman.

Shae-lee’s infectious joy and love were evident from the start. She demonstrated strength, asking us tough parenting questions that made us realize she was serious about wanting the best for her son’s future. Throughout her pregnancy, she actively involved us, making us feel like part of the journey.

On the day of delivery, we stood by her side, offering support throughout labour. Holding him in the hospital, minutes after his birth, his birth mother beamed at us. She adoringly stared at him and squeezed my hand, her eyes shimmering with tears and overflowing with love. Shae-lee’s pain seemed mixed with contentment. I can’t imagine what was going through her mind at this time, but I saw her love shine through, and I saw her hope for his future.

Bringing home baby

When we finally brought baby Cooper home, we nervously counted down the days, marking each one off the calendar. On the tenth day, our families gathered, champagne bottles at the ready to pop at midnight—the moment when the countdown would officially end.

As I held my phone, it rang in my hand, sending my heart plummeting to my toes. Tentatively, I answered, “Hello?” Nonchalantly, Shae-Lee responded, “Hey Mama. What’s going on?” “Ummm just waiting until midnight so that we can celebrate the 10 days being over,” I replied. She laughed. “Oh what? I thought the 10 days were over yesterday. Pop that champagne. He’s officially yours.” What made that day even more special was the fact that she became a part of it, celebrating with us over the phone.

Last week I was at a doctor’s appointment for Cooper and questions about his medical history came up. I texted Shae-Lee and had an answer within minutes. I know Cooper will have an easier road ahead being able to ask her any of his own questions. Right now, he is content with their friendship. He knows she is there and he can ask to arrange a visit or phone call when he chooses. There have been moments where we’ve had to navigate some boundaries over the years, but the moment that young woman chose us to gift her son to, she became a part of our family. Our hearts opened to her in a way that is so appreciative and genuine. She gifted us with a family.

Family of three grows

Shortly after we adopted Cooper, I began to feel my body change. I became so wrapped up in my love of motherhood that I began to feel my hormones shift. I told my husband, “I feel like I could become pregnant”.

Within a few months, I was pregnant and we welcomed a sister for Cooper into our family. I tell Cooper all the time that loving him was the magic that healed my body. I carried him in my heart and his sisters in my belly.

All of that magic began with a woman who was able to see outside of herself. Shae-Lee had a vision of what she wanted for her child that required so much strength, sacrifice and unwavering love, and I am grateful for her everyday.

“Adoption can be a difficult journey, but it is so worth it.”

Kyrsten Devonshire
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